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Parable of the Talents

(Earthseed #2)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  23,364 ratings  ·  2,032 reviews
This Nebula Award-winning sequel to Parable of the Sower continues the story of Lauren Olamina in socially and economically depressed California in the 2030s. Convinced that her community should colonize the stars, Lauren and her followers make preparations. But the collapse of society and rise of fanatics result in Lauren's followers being enslaved, and her daughter stole ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Warner Books (NY) (first published 1998)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  23,364 ratings  ·  2,032 reviews

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Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Much More Than Sci-Fi

Neither Amazon nor the Library of Congress has a classification in which The Parable of the Talents fits easily. So it typically gets dumped into science fiction by default. But while the book does take place in the future, and extrapolates some of the possible consequences of things like climate change and computer-controlled weaponry, there is nothing unrecognisable as probably existing on somebody's drawing board, somewhere. There is certainly no typical sci-fi bending of
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
God is change.

Thus is presented Octavia Butler’s brilliant and brutally powerful 1998 Earthseed novel Parable of the Talents.

Taking its title from the Biblical parable from St. Matthew, Butler describes a near future dystopian American society that has been decimated by apocalypse, The Pox, and is unraveling along socio-economic and theological lines.

Religion as power

Some religious critics will see this novel as an attack on religious fundamentalism, most specifically Christian extremism, as hor
Jul 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
The Bible's Parable of the Sower talks about seeds. Seeds need to fall on good earth in order to grow into majestic trees.
Butler's Parable of the Sower told a similar tale: The seeds of a new religion need to find fertile minds.

The Bible's Parable of the Talents talks about talents that get buried in earth. These hidden talents don't grow but become pointless and represent a significant waste.
Butler's Parable of the Talents told a seemingly totally unrelated tale.

"Parable of the Talents" conti
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
“We learn more and more about the physical universe, more about our own bodies, more technology, but somehow, down through history, we go on building empires of one kind or another, then destroying them in one way or another. We go on having stupid wars that we justify and get passionate about, but in the end, all they do is kill huge numbers of people, maim others, impoverish still more, spread disease and hunger”

The above passage is the essence of what Octavia Butler wanted to communicate with
May 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Zach by: Joy, who was annoyed by my negativity
There are times when I wish I believed in hell-other than the hells we make for one another, I mean.

These are tough books to review, and I'll just use this space to talk about both of them.

Butler unflinchingly looks at the effect the steady deterioration of society would have on women and the economically marginalized- I love this.

She also has a strong female character making her way through this world in a believable way- I love this too.

This female character slowly gathers a band of survivors
Leslie Reese
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents has a familiar sense of urgency that drove both Kindred and Clay's Ark. Like Mind of My Mind, Parable of the Talents features a strong-willed woman as visionary and shaper of a future world.

Most of the tale is told through EARTHSEED: THE BOOKS OF THE LIVING---a compilation of the journal writings of Lauren Oya Olamina, a hyperempath who is married to a physician known as Bankole, who happens to be 39 years her senior. But there are other tellers as well:
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended reading at the date of this review publishing.

President Jarret's slogan in this book is "Make America Great Again" and you read that within 30 pages of the opening. Ring the alarm.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a mind blower. I liked it how at the end of the story the scripture of “The Parable of Talents”, Matthew 25:14-30, was printed.

But mostly this book makes you think of how the world is today. Some of Butler’s fiction is turning into a reality. And what is especially unnerving, is that she wrote this in 1998.

There is hope throughout the story, and hope is sometimes the one thing that gets us through.
4 and a half stars.

I did not want to wait too long between my reading of “Parable of the Sower” ( and the sequel, “Parable of the Talents”. The first book has a great momentum that made me very eager to find out the rest of Lauren’s story – even if the setting felt uncomfortably realistic.

The manipulation of religion for the benefit of political advancement is something that has always been a huge problem for me, and when good speculative writers toy with
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kari m.
Grim, bleak, and intellectual read about the near future. This is my first Octavia Butler book and I enjoyed her simple & elegant writing style. This particular novel is a dystopian story that, sadly, feels prescient. Christian America finally gets a candidate into the oval office and the consequences are terrifying. The US heads to war with Canada and Alaska who have both dared to secede. Citizens who are not good Christians, poor, or homeless are prey to Crusaders and their reeducation camps ( ...more
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think both this and its predecessor Parable of the Sower are particularly relevant reads at this time. This one is superior to the first, in my opinion. It did a lot to make me feel absolutely terrible, but I do mean that in a positive way.

Dannii Elle
This is the second instalment in the Earthseed duology. This follows the same protagonist, Lauren, although the time period has shifted forward a few years, from the first book. This primarily follows the same diary-style format, although there are additional small inclusions from other characters. It also deals with primarily the same topics of focusing on the societal and political alterations in an anarchy-ruled dystopian, and the instalment and a creation of a new religion to alleviate the d ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
second read - 13 August 2018 - ***** Because I had just re-read Parable of the Sower, I also felt I needed to re-read Parable of the Talents, the second book of Octavia Butler’s Earthseed duology. I borrowed them both from my wife for the second time since I first read them 14 years ago. Since that time, I have read a number of other novels by Octavia Butler, which, unfortunately, I did not enjoy as much as these. Parable of the Talents was the winner of the 2000 Nebula Award.

Parable of the Tale
This book is even harder to read than the first one was, but it's difficult to go into why without being a festival of spoilers. So I'll just say a few things -- I noticed some people complaining in their reviews of Parable of the Sower that while Butler did go into some of the ways that minorities are hit harder during difficult times, she didn't go into much into how they fall harder on women. (But wait a second, really? Not with the two sisters who are prostituted by their own father? Not wit ...more
Parable of the Talents is the second and final book in Octavia E. Butler’s Earthseed duology. I have learned this was initially intended to be a longer series. Each of the two published books end with relatively satisfying conclusions though, providing a sense of both closure and of more possibilities ahead. It didn’t feel unfinished, although I do think I would have enjoyed the direction further books would have taken.

I don’t think I can say what this book is about without spoiling the first on
Apr 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
I loved the first book, but could hardly bear to finish this one. The first half is really boring, and then there's a brief but extremely horrible and violent section, where evil, white Christian men rape, torture, and murder people who don't agree with their views. It's way over the top. Then it's boring again until the end.

Part of the boredom stems from the way this book is written. Unlike Parable of the Sower, which steeps the reader in the middle of the drama, this book consists entirely of
I don't feel capable of adequately putting down my thoughts on this book quite yet. But I'll write some stuff. Parable of the Talents and Sower before it are both grand accomplishments in inspiring deep self reflective thought while also entertaining the reader with deep and relatable characters. For many years now I have been struggling with how I should determine my attitude toward religion and belief. Though my inquiry into understanding the true nature of faith and religion is far from over, ...more
Nasty, Brutish, and Short

Thomas Hobbes explained that without a society of rules, laws, customs, there would be:

"No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

Octavia Butler's two Earthseed novels, like many a post-apocalypse or dystopian novel, imagines a world where society has broken down and all concepts of right and wrong, justice or injustice have all but disappeared.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 5-star
4.5, bumped to the 5 side after reflection


Without a doubt one of the most comprehensive and successful sci-fi/dystopian novels I've ever read - and that's saying something, considering how dystopia has proliferated the markets for the past 5-10 years. It didn't get a full five stars because, 1) it is incredibly difficult to read because the subject matter is so, so grim; 2) I just could not reconcile the irrational and dedicated disgust Larkin/Asha harbored for her mother even after she read
This book is the sequel to Parable of the Sower, but it stands up pretty well by itself, though I would definitely recommend reading the first book, because Butler is that good and these books are very powerful. In Parable of the Talents, Lauren Olamina, the protagonist of the first book, continues trying to build a community and a following devoted to her new religion, "Earthseed." Unfortunately, she is trying to found this new religion just when America, in the grip of a near-apocalyptic econo ...more
Laura Lam
Everyone should read this book in 2017 and be disturbed by how realistic it could be. I think it's more realistic than Handmaid's Tale, It Can't Happen Here, and 1984 combined.
Dawn C
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: media-audible
Wow. Butler’s way of detailing the inner lives of her characters and realistically describe a society in upheaval is incredible. I thought the first book was fascinating but I didn’t expect to be so drawn in during the sequel. I know she was working on a third book but it actually ends perfectly as it is. I’m going to give this five stars because ultimately it’s a very, very thorough piece of work.
Nov 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
God, I was so into this - even more than Parable of the Sower. I've never experienced a narrator like this - a young black woman founding a new religion in a post apocalyptic world. In this book, she's up against the Christian America movement, whose leader is elected president and whose Crusaders are given a free hand to destroy or enslave "heathens" and other undesirables. Some of the early rhetoric of the Christian America movement was eerily reminiscent of that which surrounded George W. Bus ...more
Parable of the Talents begins about a decade after Parable of the Sower. Acorn is now a thriving community of 60+ members, and Lauren continues writing in her journal. Interspersed between her journal entries are the thoughts of her daughter--Asha. Though Asha is yet to be born during Lauren's sections, you immediately know that the future Asha is separated from her mother at some point. Parable of the Talents tells the story of how mother and daughter were separated, and how Acorn collapsed.

I l
Dustin Crazy little brown owl
A message of embracing change and a hope for the future.

Parable of the Talents is the second book in the Earthseed Series and sequel to Parable of the Sower. Earthseed was meant to be a trilogy, but Octavia E. Butler died in 2006, before finishing Parable of the Trickster.

There have been so many fictional stories set in the near future - I often wonder how many it takes for us to wake up to the parallels, and why people are generally surprised by current events. The truth is stranger than fictio
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Two major problems lead to this book getting the rating it did
--The first one was completely the book's fault and that was extremely mediocre dialogue. Like its been a while since I've read dialogue this colorless.
--The second was that this is the second book in a duology...and i didnt read the first book. Bare in mind that you absolutely don't need to read the first book to read this one. But since i review books more from a writers standpoint than that of enjoyment, i noticed a lot of bug
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Maybe Butler was clairvoyant, but mostly she was a student of history who used her brilliant imagination to envision a chilling world in our near future. I appreciated her addition of POVs in this 2nd Earthseed book. The mother-daughter contrast was stark. And the violence was rough to digest. But Talents cemented Butler as a favorite of mine, if not THE favorite.

Full review on my book blog
Octavia E. Butler’s books are not for the squeamish and most certainly not for people who want happy, Hollywood endings. Things work out in the end – but never in a nice neat package. There is always a lot of loss in all of its most painful forms. Her works are very realistic in that matter. In fact, her works are realistic in all matters. They are a reflection of life and of the human spirit. They don’t allow you to escape into science fiction and fantasy as easily as other books in the genre m ...more
D Dyer
Reviewed after re-reading.
This is a wonderful sequel to Octavia Butler‘s parable of the sewer. It is still unapologetically horrifying but features the growth of the earthseed religion and the American dissent into religious fundamentalism and signs of eventual recovery. I’d loved the alternations of Lauren’s journals, watching her go through further turmoil and continue to grow up and refine her beliefs, and the reflections of her adult daughter whose separation from her mother has given her a
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2018-05-may
Prophetic of Trump/Pence, (but if they were one person) right down to Make America Great Again!

I liked this quite a bit more than Parable of the Sower, which I three-starred.
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Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.

Other books in the series

Earthseed (3 books)
  • Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)
  • Earthseed: The Complete Series

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Need some help planning your summer reading? Goodreads employees are a very bookish bunch, so we asked our colleagues to...
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“In order to rise
From its own ashes
A phoenix
“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”
More quotes…